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Japanese - Crane and Tortoise Box, 1894


Crane and Tortoise Box, 1894

Silver with gold and lacquer , 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in.) high


This crane and tortoise box was designed and produced to be given to guests at the imperial banquet for the twenty-fifth wedding anniversary of the Meiji Emperor and Empress in 1894. Often referred to by the French term “bonbonnière,” the box is decorated with a crane and two tortoises (minogame), historic motifs that convey messages of auspiciousness and longevity across East Asia. Aside from one other in a private Hong Kong collection, all examples of this bonbonnière are in the collection of the Japanese Imperial Household. Kojiro Tomita (1890-1976), Isabella’s friend and a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gave this box to Isabella sometime around the year 1909. Isabella displayed it in the Little Salon along with other objects commemorating her friendships.